NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 19, 2023

by | Jun 19, 2023 | News, NHL | 30 comments

Oddsmakers don’t favor the Golden Knights’ chances of repeating as Stanley Cup champs, Valeri Nichushkin is expected to rejoin the Avalanche, the latest notable draft news and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee headlines.

VEGAS HOCKEY NOW: Oddsmakers aren’t bullish on the Golden Knights’ chances of repeating as Stanley Cup champions. Vegas Insider has the Colorado Avalanche as the favorite to win the Cup in 2024 while the Golden Knights have the sixth-best odds, tied with the Boston Bruins, New Jersey Devils, Carolina Hurricanes and Tampa Bay Lightning.

Vegas Golden Knights captain Mark Stone raises the Stanley Cup (NHL.com).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: You don’t need oddsmakers to tell you how difficult it is in today’s NHL to repeat as Stanley Cup champions or for a defending champ to return to the Final.

Since 1990, only three teams – the Pittsburgh Penguins (1991 and 1992, 2016 and 2017), Detroit Red Wings (1997 and 1998) and Tampa Bay Lightning (2020 and 2021) repeated as Cup champions.

The Penguins and Red Wings faced off in the 2008 and 2009 Finals, with the Wings winning in 2008 and the Penguins the following season.

The Lightning reached the Final in three straight years (2020 to 2022), becoming the first team to do so since the Edmonton Oilers (1983 to 1985).

THE DENVER POST: Sources claim Valeri Nichushkin is expected to rejoin the Colorado Avalanche for 2023-24. The 28-year-old winger left the team before Game 3 of the Avalanche’s first-round series against the Seattle Kraken following an incident involving an intoxicated woman in his Seattle hotel room.

There was no criminal investigation of the incident and Nichushkin is not being investigated by the league. The winger has been out of sight since returning to Denver following the incident while the Avalanche have declined to comment.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Nichushkin and the Avalanche will have to face questions from the media about this incident at some point before the start of next season. It remains to be seen how forthcoming they’ll be about this situation.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen admitted he’s received several calls from clubs wondering if he’s willing to trade his first-round pick (third overall) in the upcoming 2023 NHL Draft.

Kekalainen said none of the offers he’s received have convinced him to part with the pick. “I’m 99.9 percent sure that we won’t be trading the pick.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There were also reports last week of the Montreal Canadiens contacting the Anaheim Ducks (second overall) and San Jose Sharks (fourth overall) to gauge their willingness to trade their picks. Perhaps they were among those who contacted Kekalainen about his pick.

One of those clubs could be convinced to move their selection for the right price. Given how rarely those picks are traded, however, I’ll be surprised if any of them are moved between now and the opening round on June 28.

DETROIT HOCKEY NOW: Russian prospect Matvei Michkov avoided meeting with NHL teams and didn’t meet with them after KHL games this season. A gifted offensive winger, the 18-year-old Michkov is considered among the top prospects in this year’s draft and could be among the top-five picks.

Kevin Allen writes that Michkov’s actions have prompted speculation that he’s trying to manipulate the selection process to get to a specific team.

Allen thinks he could be angling to be chosen by the Washington Capitals (eighth overall) for an opportunity to play with Russian superstar Alex Ovechkin.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Michkov also didn’t attend the NHL Draft Combine earlier this month. His agent claims his client will be in attendance at the upcoming NHL Draft.

Rumored character issues plus his lengthy KHL contract could prompt some teams to skip on Michkov, possibly making him available to lower-seeded clubs in the first round.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery admitted he didn’t read his players well during their stunning first-round loss to the underdog Florida Panthers. After rewatching the games, Montgomery said he could tell that the Bruins weren’t anywhere close to playing with the same tempo as they did during their record-breaking regular season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Overconfidence plus injuries to some key players seemed to play a role in the Bruins’ demise against the determined Panthers. After setting the records for most wins (65) and points (135) in the regular season, Boston seemed to have Florida on the ropes after taking a commanding 3-1 series lead.

NEW JERSEY HOCKEY NOW: Devils general manager Tom Fitzgerald disputed the notion that he believes in a salary hierarchy. This comes after he re-signed winger Jesper Bratt to an eight-year extension with an average annual value of $7.87 million, coming in just under center Jack Hughes’ $8 million AAV.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, Timo Meier’s AAV on his next contract could be higher than Hughes’ if he and the Devils agree to a new deal.


  1. Sound like Jim Montgomery couldn’t read his own body language.

    Boston loss can be summed up in two numbers 3.33 0.896

  2. Considering questions being raised about Provorov and Severson, and the backlash over the (probable) hiring of Babcock, if Jarmo traded away the #3 pick, the lynch mobs would begin gathering at Nationwide Arena.

    • John Davidson is prez. Maybe he looks back on his time in NY and wishes he had considered trading back from #1 and not taking Lafreniere

  3. Just curious what it would take to trade one of the top picks (not 1OA). When was the last time a top pick was traded? The Sedin’s?

  4. If that is true about Montgomerys comments,then why didn’t t he make changes to reel his team in and try to change the outcome of the series?If you can t read your team after an entire season of living with these guys then you better bring in a Palm Reader to help you!

  5. Timo’s salary will be hirer than Jack’s whereever he ends up!

  6. Bruins were not healthy at the right time. Berg and Krejci too important to the game plan and their success.

    • Ullmark too. Health is key to Winning in playoffs. Still hard to fathom as a Bruin fan

  7. Glad “Big Val” is coming back. Disappointed he let the team down in Seattle! At the same time, if he is struggling with personal stuff I have to support him. The Avalanche handled the whole thing horribly. But Val plays the game the right way. He’s a beast out there and we need him more than ever without Landeskog. Those two are my favorite players because they bring it on a regular basis! Hope he is getting help with what is going on! GO AVS!!!!!

    • I think the Avs handled it the only way they could tommyboy, send him home and don’t say anything as it is a personal issue.

      Not sure what better options there were?

      Any word on Landy surgery and the outlook for him? Kind of handcuffed for the medium to long term until they have answers on that. I suppose it will take months to have any idea.

      • Maybe you are right, Raybark? Seems so secretive. Not our fault there was an ” incident” Of course everyone wants to know in this media driven age. But the main thing is I hope he is getting help for whatever.

        As far as Landeskog, he seems to be doing well with his rehab. And upbeat but from everything I have read about it , it still is gone for all of next year and come back the following year. His career seems questionable but his take on it is he is definitely capable of coming back the following year. I hope he is right. That’s the biggest hole in the Avalanche IMHO. When he is there and healthy, the Avalanche are tough to beat. He’s “the straw” as they say!! Really get’s little respect nationally except for people who are real hockey fans.

  8. Bob McKenzie is reporting this morning that Michkov will be scheduling meetings in Nashville with teams before the draft.

    I’m not one to fall for conspiracy theories, but there’s plenty of smoke to give credence to speculation that the process is being manipulated. And not just by Michkov himself. With regard to the supposed “character issues”, I saw reference on another site to a report from TVA Sports in Montreal that Andrei Nikolishin, a former NHLer who works in Washington’s scouting department, is putting out word about these supposed character issues. Now why would a scout for the Capitals, who hold the #8 pick, spread rumors about this? I think we all know why. When you think about it, it’s not out of the question that Putin will see to it that the KHL lets Michkov out of his contract so he can come over and play with Ovechkin in D.C.

    One Habs blogger is writing this morning that if the Habs are unsuccessful in trading up, and if the 4 centers are all gone, they should look to trade down. Arizona at #6 has been rumored to have their eye on Michkov and there’s Washington of course. If the Habs have no interest in Michkov, they could get an extra 2nd rounder and the guy they want (Leonard, Benson, Dvorsky, Reinbacher) would likely still be there when they choose. I’m not a huge fan of trading down but this may make sense.

    • Pretty good analysis Howie, if you are right……….

    • That’s a lot of conspiracies, Howard. I want the Habs to stay away from Michkov simply because of his lack of availability.

      As for the Habs trading up or down, there are several good center prospects that should be available once Bedard, Fantilli, and Carlssonn are picked. And bear in mind we are assuming they are dead set on a centre, possibly a specific one.

      What if they would be just as happy with Leonard or to your view that they need a right D, Reinbacher?

      • Oops, sorry Howard, I overlooked the end of your post. I haven’t had my coffee yet!

        But not on your list at center are: Danielson, Moore, Yager and Stenberg. It’s an unusual draft to have so many centres highly ranked.

      • Danielson is a bit of a reach at #5. Moore, Yager & Stenberg even more so. I’d rather they not trade down past #8. Even there, only Danielson and maybe Moore wouldn’t be a reach.

        Aside from the 4 centers and Michkov, I would prefer Leonard or possibly Benson. It seems that Benson may have more offensive talent but Leonard is bigger and has more of an edge. Frankly, I’m a bit wary of drafting Reinbacher that high. From all accounts, he has a solid defensive game but les offensive upside than you’d want drafting that high.

      • Howard, agreed!

    • Michkov’s character “issues” are overblown and based on being put in his place by veterans not appreciating his pushing and venting about losing….apparently he zipped it after.

      The kid has been a scorer and leader with a drive to excel and win, even as a rookie.

      I’d take him all day long and rely on the internal center depth…a position you can teach.

      Scoring is a natural ability and hehas it in spades.

      • LJ & HabFan, I agree with both of you, sort of, on Michkov. I agree that the character issues are overblown. But there are still concerns that he may just stay in Russia. At the very least, it’s doubtful they’d have much access to him over the next 3 years so they could monitor his development.

    • Howard, maybe Michkov is trying to control the narrative and simply telling some teams at present I don’t know when I’m coming across but let’s say tells Washington I will be here soon.

      • Jagr told 4 teams that he wasn’t coming to NA to play anytime soon in those interviews. He then told the Penguins that he’d come tomorrow I they selected him.
        This is nothing new.

  9. If Hughes was in fact reaching out to Verbeek to get Fantilli (fair move)….

    Then obviously 5th OA; 31st OA; Dvorak + + are heading back

    What is the “+ +”??

    If the “+ +” is latest (of their two) 1sts (‘25) and one of their up and coming Rocket youngster D-Men…. Then that could move the needle…. That’s 3 first; middle 6 C; good D prospect ; for Fantilli

    Having ….. in alphabetical order: Dach, Evans, Fantilli; Suzuki as your 4 NHL centres; with Beck, Mesar, Kidney in the pipelines…. All for at least the next 1/2 decade….. that , to me , is well worth it for Habs

    This also saves Cap this year for Habs

    Habs fans…. Would you make that deal; I certainly would

    • Pengy,
      Dvorak is the only centre on the Habs to break 50% on faceoffs so he should stay until Suzuki and Dach improve and Beck arrives.

      Pronman has Michkov ranked #1, many have him at #2 though most have him further down.

      I wouldn’t give up anything for Fantilli, Carlsson or Smith.

      If anything I would trade back to Washington for example, #8 and #40, maybe throw in Mantha who theywantto unload.

      • Hi HF30

        Disclosure here; I am a Fantilli fan

        That’s me

        That said…. Both TSN and SN now t only have him at 2; they have both said that Fantilli is closer to Bedard than any other player is to him (Fantilli)… in other words…. Gap 1OA to 2OA ; per TSN and SN is smaller than gap 2OA to 3etc OA

        In addition; every single top ranking organizations/people…. Every single one of them…. Has Fantilli @ 2OA

        These include:
        Consolidated Rankings
        Elite sports
        NHL Central scouting
        FC rankings
        The Hockey News
        Bob McKenzie
        Craig Button
        Daily Faceoff
        Dobber sports
        Recruit Scouting
        Draft Prospects Hockey

        11 of the above have Karllson @3OA; 4 have him @ 4OA

        Most rank Mikov at 4OA; with a couple of 3 OAs and a couple 5 OAs spattered in

        After that it seems to be Benson then Smith or Smith then Benson for most

        I personally think Fantilli is that much better than Benson or Smith for the trade value I suggested

        Valid point re %’ages on the dot…. But not the be all and end all…. Suzuki and Dach will improve their face-off skills

        Re trading back…. If Mantha has to come over in the deal…. 8th and 40th no where near enough. Caps would need to pony up a lot more. Sans Mantha…. 8th plus 40th; plus either B prospect OR 6th rounder

        If Habs are trading down…. What do you want from Pens (not named P-O J) to flip 5th OA for 14th OA??

        You want Petry back? As in the Monty Python sketch Nudge Nudge Wink Wink….. “say no more, say no more”

      • The P-O Joseph I saw at IIHF this past May left a lot to be desired, the only D weaker than him was Tyler Meyers.
        I hadn’t seen much of either but they were shockingly bad, P-O J is a LD a position that is full of prospects and sophomores.

        Michkov is ranked low on account of being Russian and being under contract for three years.

        Craig Button has compared him to Kharlamov and goal scoring to Lionel Messi. I know its soccer not hockey but the meaning is understood.

        I like Kirby Dach’s game but he’s 39% in the circle and Suzuki’s 48%, the team needs somebody better while they improve (PLD is just 48’9%)

        I’d rather stay put BUT I think #8 would be a good player ( Leonard) and #40 gives the Habs 3 early 2nd rounders.

        As for Mantha, a change of scenery might do him good and he only has one more year on his contract.

      • Fair points re Habs HF30

        Re P-O J…. Good future …. Pens should not even think of trading him

        Barely more than league min this year; on the rise; smooth skater; and I believe he fits near future nicely for Pens as 2nd pairing LD

        Michkov is extremely tiny…. Listed at 146 lbs right now

        Add to that his Contract; I would not take him

  10. Pengy, if Fantilli doesn’t go # 2 then Anaheim management need to check into the Substance Abuse program.

    A writer that follows the Habs is convinced they will trade for PLD. As for the Pens, but there is no one on your roster the Habs need at this stage of their rebuild. Not a slight of the Pens, Pengy.

    If they do trade down it surely will not be as low as 14, as none of the chatter (though it is just that) has Leonard, Reinbacher, or Dvorski rated that low, the players most writers have pegged for the Habs if Smith isn’t available.

    But who knows? Remember when the Habs drafted Price at 5th that was a shocker to most.

    • LJ, there are some analysts who have Carlson rated higher than Fantilli. I listened to one this past weekend on the NHL radio network.

      • Hi Iago

        All of the major analysts and ranking outlets…, all, have Fantilli ahead of Carlson

    • Hi LJ

      Fantilli is going 2nd…, may not be to Ducks (trade) ; but he’ll go 2nd

      Bang on re Pens…. Cupboard is bare

      I’d love for Pens to pick up Barlow or Ritchie or Wood or Danielson…. All 4 projected in the 12th – 20th spots